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Causation, Electronic Configurations and the Periodic Table

Scerri, Eric (2021) Causation, Electronic Configurations and the Periodic Table. Synthese, 198. pp. 9709-9720.

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Abstract

The article examines a recent interventionist account of causation by Ross, in which electronic configurations of atoms are considered to be the cause of chemical behavior.
More specifically I respond to the claim that a change in electronic configuration of an atom, such as occurs in the artificial synthesis of elements, causes a change in the
behavior of the atom in question. I argue that chemical behavior is governed as much by the nuclear charge of an atom as it is by its electronic structure. It is suggested that an adequate analysis requires attention to the dynamical interactions between nuclear charges and those of electrons, as typically carried out through the application of the Schrödinger equation. It is concluded that electronic configurations can only be said be causal in a weak sense that is somewhat analogous to the causal arguments that are
invoked in folk physics.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Scerri, Eric
Keywords: Causation · Electronic configurations · Periodic table · Chemistry · Quantum chemistry
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Chemistry
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Depositing User: Eric Scerri
Date Deposited: 18 May 2022 13:20
Last Modified: 18 May 2022 13:20
Item ID: 20566
Journal or Publication Title: Synthese
Publisher: Springer
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Chemistry
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Date: 2021
Page Range: pp. 9709-9720
Volume: 198
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/20566

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